Saturday, July 30, 2011

Food, Funeral, Food pantry, and Friends

I realize that I didn't get my Frugal Friday post done yesterday (super busy day) but I was hoping to make up for it with this weak attempt at alliteration!! 

FOOD:  First, we had our UNFI food delivery in Irene, and of course, the truck was late.  Of course, the worst part of the delivery was that he had forgotten to leave us our chocolate chips, so everyone was bummed about that!!  We finished with sorting our organic food, loaded everyone's car, and were headed back home.

FUNERAL:  The husband of a wonderful teacher and friend of mine had passed away this week, so I hurriedly cleaned up and hurried to Centerville for his funeral.  This friend, Mrs. Gors, was a fellow teacher when I taught school here in town, but more importantly, she was Erin's teacher the year of her accident.  Mrs. Gors was instrumental in helping Erin's class grieve openly for Erin and she handled all of their feelings with much love and consideration.  I'll never forget when I went to the school to clean out Erin's school desk, and there was a red rose laying on the desk in her classroom.  It touches me today just thinking about it.  Mrs. Gors is an incredible woman and the kind of teacher that inspires many generations of students- I pray she finds comfort in the wonderful memories she has of her husband.

FOOD PANTRY:  Our church is responsible for manning the local Food Pantry on Fridays from 4:30-6:30 and I am assigned one Friday a month to work at it.  I hurried home from the funeral, changed clothes, and Camille and I went back in to open up the Pantry.  The shelves were looking a little bleak this month- everyone is struggling with the higher cost of groceries, and it's beginning to show up even in the amount of food donated.

FRIENDS:  While we were at the Pantry, one of Camille's friends, Lexy, came by and the girls talked me into a sleep-over!  So we wrapped up our day ~

Mesa, Bri, Lexy on Bucco, and Camille

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

China current events

When I saw this article on MSN, my heart just leapt up to my throat.

How can money be so important to people that they are willing to exploit children in this way?  The thought of someone selling Quinn just hurts my stomach. 

The fact that these mothers have to face giving up their daughters because of a government rule makes me outraged and terribly sad for them.  Their families and their souls forever changed.
Then last week, one of the high speed trains that run in China hit another train, and 35 people were killed.  Seems like I notice more and more articles on China these days....could it be because I'm watching the calendar every day, counting down to our LOA?

(Note to self- do NOT ride the trains in China if at all possible.)

We are on day 49 of our wait for approval from the CCWAA for our adoption of Quinn.  Many people have gotten theirs on either day 53 or day 60, so I wonder if they are issued out once a week. 

Once we get LOA, then I can post pics of her, and also send her a care package to her orphanage.
And it means that we are that much closer to going and bringing her home.

With that in mind, we have had something else very unexpected come up that has us discussing, praying, and doing alot of pondering.  I'll expand on it in another post once I have more information.

If it works out, we will be tickled pink!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's a's a plane..

It's LUKE.  Here he is, working on his Aviation badge for Boy Scout Camp.

They got to fly over the Scout camp and around Yankton while learning about the controls and basics of flying.  I'm safe in saying that it was one of the highlights for Luke at camp this year.

While the guys were gone at camp, this is what us girls were doing back at the farm...

A little of this...

A little of that....
a dip in the pool

And a whole lot of this....

The green beans are exploding, and cabbages harvested.  Pepper plants are covered in small peppers, and tomatoes are beginning to turn red- I can already taste the salsa!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Frugal Friday

"Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship"- Benjamin Franklin

Yah.......I know this is kinda lame for a frugality post, but I can slip in yesterday's pictures of the kids at the pool if I do :-)

Our closest pool for summer swimming is in Centerville, which is about 8 miles away from Viborg.

Swimming lessons cost $18/child, and a daily pass is $3.00.  That means that if all 3 of my kids took lessons, which they do, it would cost $54 for lessons.  Each "fun swim" day that we would enjoy would cost $9.00 for the kids, or $12.00 if I went in with them (which I love to do!)

The summer Family pass costs $65.00 for the whole summer. 

Based on that price, if we didn't get the pass, each of the kids could get lessons, costing $54.00, and we could all go swimming for a fun swim day.


So, the frugal tip today is if there are Family or Bulk Use passes that offer more bang for your buck, do it!  This way, we also make more trips to the pool because WE CAN!  IT'S PAID FOR!!

Bri and Kaylee

Bri, Kaylee, Camille

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spiderman seen in Yankton

That is my 14 year old son on the side of this "thing".  This is one of the many activities that he's doing down at Boy Scout Camp in Yankton.

And yes, I did gasp when I saw it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Boys will be boys

This is how our boys roll....
Activity of choice for Luke's birthday- all gathered around the TV!

Armed with Ipods- quality time together?

Playstation is EXHAUSTING!

Boys are so funny :-)
Happy 14th Birthday Luke!

Bri, Tanner, Evan, Camille, Brad, Luke

She said~ He said

Camille loves to come out and help me in the garden- not so much for the gardening, but for the uninterrupted opportunity to talk to me.  About everything and anything.  Because she knows the other kids avoid weeding and harvesting, so she doesn't have to share mom.

This week, she informed me that when she gets to be a grown up, she wants to become a house builder, a babysitter, and a person that works at Dad's work.  Umm...okay- sounds good. 

Then she informed me that she was also going to quit her jobs when she was 30 and she planned on adopting "lots of kids from Ethiopia and China, and maybe England."    (England?  Too cute.  And the way she tries to say "Ethiopia" just about makes me giggle every time.)  "And Mom, wouldn't that be cool that they will be speaking different languages?"  She has really been putting alot of thought into her adoption plan.

 Adoption has really been on her mind alot lately, because it colors many of her recent conversations.

She asked me one night in the car if I will be sad when Quinn has to go back to China, and that led to an interesting visit.   She was under the impression that we had actually adopted Menha and Deng, our last 2 foster care placements, so when they were returned to their family, Camille assumed that Quinn will also be someday be returned to her family in China. 

Obviously this has bothered her alot, but after explaining the difference and assuring her that both she and Quinn are adopted and not fostered, and that they will always belong to this family, she visibly relaxed. I think the fear of attaching and losing another "sister" was really bothering her- she's been much happier since.

Glad we got THAT ironed out!  :-)

Picked up Tanner last Thursday from Yankton so he could be home for Danish Days, and as always, his sense of humor had me smiling in no time.

He was telling me about how he went to the Yankton Pool that day to see the Viborg kids who were there for lessons, and how excited they were to see him. 

Tanner: "And the crowds went wild, Mom, the crowds went wild." 

Me:  "Really? The kids were happy to see you?"

Tanner:"Well duh.  I'm the most popular guy in Yankton. "

Son, you make me laugh!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Frugal Friday

"Rather to go to bed supperless than rise in debt"- Benjamin Franklin

Just to warn ya, most of the summer's "frugality" is going to revolve around food preservation.
So consider yourself warned :-)

Well, we jumped right from freezing peas on Wednesday to picking green beans on Friday.  I thought Bri was going to cry when she saw they were ready to be picked!

We start out by picking early in the morning- the vegys are supposed to be at their peak taste in the morning- something to do with the sugars stored in the plant. 

Once they are picked, we all sit around and break off the ends and snap the beans into 1 inch pieces. 
(Because, if you remember, this is where the TV watching comes in.  It's the most popular step, needless to say.)

Then, I put them in a huge cooking pot and bring then to a boil- simmer 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat.

Load them into pre-washed mason jars, add 1/2 tsp seasalt in each jar, and slid a knife along the inside of the jars to remove any air bubbles.

Add new seal lids that have been boiled, and tighten on the rims.

Place the ready jars into the pressure canner, then follow the instructions that come with the canner.

This is my "return" to using a pressure canner.   I was fairly nervous, since it's been years since I've used one, and I wasn't keen on blowing my kitchen up, so I followed the instructions to a T.

Notice the different stove??  Our newer glass top cannot be used for canning because the heat will crack the top, so we (and by "we", I mean "Loren") had to move our old stove back for canning season.

I've missed my old stove.   (See the burnt ring around the right burner?  That's from canning.)

Good times.....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Be Prepared

 I want to start out by saying how proud I was of my husband Sunday night. 

Not that this is unusual, but it was a different kind of proud, the kind that almost made me verklempt.

Loren portrays all the values that I had on my checklist for a husband- incredibly loyal, compassionate, old fashioned in a good way, honest to a fault, trustworthy.....yes, he sounds like a Boy Scout. 

Which brings me to Sunday night.  Luke's best friend, Evan, was receiving his Eagle Scout award for Scouts, and Loren had been asked to "make a few comments".  (Or give a heartfelt speech that would bring the audience to tears...yah, that's the one he chose)

Luke and Evan

Loren is part of a long tradition in Viborg of producing an incredible amount of Eagle Scouts.  He was part of a group of 5 scouts one year from Troop 61 who earned their Eagle Scout awards, receiving alot of attention because of the large number of recipients from such a small town. They even garnered a spot on the local news station and an article in the paper.  Loren's father, Wayne, was his scout leader, and Evan's grandpa, Bob, has been involved as our area Scout director for many years, so our families have been linked through scouting.

The ceremony was simple but heartfelt, and everyone felt the enormity of this accomplishment.  Evan read a poem about Scout mothers that made us choke up and his mother cry.  Then it came for him to "pin" the adults that had helped him along the way; after pinning both his parents, he pinned Loren as his Mentor, which surprised and really pleased him.

Scouting is a long standing tradition that is seeped in old fashioned values.  The young men that travel the road to Eagle Scout learn the importance of committment and dedication to family and community, faith and country.  

It emphasizes doing for others instead of just doing for themselves.

I think everyone should become a Boy Scout. :-)

Loren, Luke, Ethan, Evan, PJ, Cody, Mike


Friday, July 8, 2011

Frugal Friday~

This week's garden harvest includes peas and raspberries.  Because these are "fragile" fruits and vegetables, they preserve better when frozen, as compared to the canning process, which is kind of hard on vegetables and fruit.  Their flavor and texture is better if you first flash-freeze them, then bag them.

First, place the freshly picked raspberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Second,  place them in the freezer for about 4-6 hours.

Third, bag and label them, and pop them in the freezer.

 Fresh produce during the winter with the taste of summer. 

Because these raspberry bushes grew from some shoots planted years ago and they come back every year, it's hard to determine how much it cost to produce these raspberries.  However, to purchase bags of frozen raspberries currently costs over $4.00/qt bag, so I'm hoping that those bushes just keep on producing! 

 I love perennials because they are SO worth the investment price of planting them, because if they are taken care of, they just keep on giving.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pea Harvest

Our mild spring weather, along with all the moisture we've been getting, has resulted in optimum gardening conditions.  The pea plants are almost taller than I am!  (I know....that's not a very hard thing to do because I'm only 4'11, but still, it's impressive.)

So yesterday, Camille and I spent 3 hours picking peas,(well, she wandered off after about 20 minutes, but it's the thought that counts!)  and another 4 hours shelling them, with help from Bri and Luke.

And that's only the first picking!  We are going to be eating LOTS of peas this year. My Dad also loves peas, so we will share :-) 

I have willing pea shellers because I let them indulge in their TV obsessions while they shell, because really, it's a very boring job.  So, to season the pot, so to speak, I let them watch TV as long as they keep on shelling.  Yesterday, we shelled over 30# of peas!  (yes, I weighed them) 

It's funny how these yearly chores build memories.  The kids were talking about how they always would think about watching funny Seinfeld reruns whenever they would eat peas, because that's what they watched last year when we were shelling.  This year, it's Cosby reruns. 

Yes, there are days when I wish we didn't own a TV, and that my kids weren't so keen on watching it ALL THE TIME, and then there are times when it weaves itself into our traditions.  Besides, it makes hours of shelling endurable.  Listening to the birds sing while sitting on the deck just wouldn't cut the monotony of pea shelling like laughing at little Rudy Huxtable and the crazy antics of Bill Cosby.  I get it.

Now, I'm going to go sit down to shell some peas....and watch a little Veronica Mars. :-)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

4th of July

We are so fortunate that we live in a country where we can enjoy so many freedoms.......

Camille and Friends

AnnaMarie, Bri, Hannah, Lani

Loren visiting

Luke and many boys setting off fireworks

Spent the morning painting my bedroom

Just another Independence Day!  We worked on the farm in the morning, had a wonderful picnic with friends in the afternoon, and watched fireworks that night.   

The 4th of July is also our anniversary.  Loren loves using his standby quip "Isn't it ironic that I got married on "independence" day!?"

Very funny, sweetheart. :-)

I like it because we get the day off every year....and there will always be fireworks!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Just Because...

Had to post these pics, just because they were so darn cute :-)

(This picture was not set up- honest!  I came in and found the 3 of them napping in this basket.  My fiddling with the camera woke them up.)

Frugal Friday~

This is a double duty tip- qualifies as frugal and Green! 

Instead of using environmentally harmful chemicals to get rid of bugs, we take a little extra time and pick them off, then feed them to our chickens. 

No expensive chemicals, no toxins on your plants, and your chickens will thank you!

Camille is my bug picking helper, and today we were picking Squash bugs (yes, that is a technical term...) off of the potato plants.  It's easy work, and the plants look much happier once we were done.

Handle our planet with care and a little TLC.  And if it saves you money in the process, then all the better!